If you are learning the ACT model, and you are working with children or teenagers, you might find yourself scratching your head. Have you ever found yourself thinking, "but what am I supposed to do with kids?" You are not alone. And thank goodness, Louis Hayes, PhD, has come to our rescue.
Her new book, The Thriving Adolescent breaks down her model for working with children and teenagers. She calls it the DNA-V model. She uses the metaphor of DNA to explain that the DNA skills associated with the model are part of each of us - just like our biological DNA - and these skills can be molded and strengthened to improve the lives of young people.
Now before you start trying to figure out what how each element of this model maps on to the hexaflex - take a step back. While the DNA-V model is built on ACT principles and uses many similar concepts it is NOT just ACT made for kids. For example, kids are taught about their "Discover," skills that are compared with being a scientist, explorer, or adventurer. In this space they learn how to expand their strengths, challenge themselves, and continue to learn and grow into the adults they will become one day. They learn about their "Noticer" skills as they practice being in the moment, mindfulness, and paying attention to their lived experiences. Sound a little more familiar? The next skill they are taught to recognize is their "Advisor," and rather than just call this "the mind," kids are taught to think of The Advisor as part of them that they can learn more about. Why? Because this helps them learn to better discriminate the "advice" that is value-guided and the advice that is inconsistent.
Lastly, teens are taught about "Values and Vitality," and discuss their own values and areas of vital living. While this may sound just like the ACT model, the DNA-V takes on values in a way that honors stages of development and encourages adolescents to consistently “step into” their “Discoverer” space as they try out actions that are connected with values. By appreciating that values are not carved in stone, teenagers can improve their ability to explore and discover what does matter to them the most.
If you plan to work with children, teenagers, or parents - this is a text you should check out!